Jailyn Williams Week 2

Once humans learned to harness the machine, everything changed. These changes were pronounced in European cities. The emerging factory system drew in a huge population and the cities exploded. With an overwhelming number of migrants, the cities could not provide adequate food, safe housing, sanitary facilities, medical care, or enough jobs. Poverty, crime, disease, and malnutrition increased. Friedrich Engels vividly described the appalling slum conditions that industrialization brought to Manchester, England, the first industrialized city. This is when urban sociology emerged. Sociology was born in Europe during the Industrial Revolution. The father of sociology is Auguste Comte. Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and others also sought to explain the great transformation wrought by urbanization and industrialization.

Karl Marx spent most of his adult life in England during the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, and he was among the first of the classical sociologists to analyze the transformation of European society. He argued passionately that the economic structure of society is the foundation upon which rests the name of the social, political, and spiritual aspects of life. He meant that the economic system serves as the base on which the social institutions of family, religion, and the political system take form.

German sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies described two contrasting types of human social life: Gemeinschaft or “community”, which characterized the small country village; and Gesellschaft, or “society”, which characterized the large city. This typology had a lasting influence on urban sociology because it was one of the first theories to understand human settlements by means of a continuum.

Like Tonnies, the French sociologist Emile Durkheim witnessed the urban revolution of the nineteenth century. He also developed a model of contrasting types: his terms mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity are analogous to Tonnie’s Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Mechanical solidarity refers to social bonds based on likeness, on common belief and custom, common ritual and symbol. Organic solidarity describes a social order based on individual differences.

German sociologist Max Weber believed any theory that took account of cities in only one part of the world and at one point in time was of limited value. This concern proved to be his major methodological contribution to urban sociology.

All six theorists, Marx, Engels, Tonnies, Simmel and Durkheim all recognized that something distinctive exists about the city and the way of life it creates. All saw the city as increasing human choice, emphasizing rationality, utlizing a complex division of labor, and creating a unique experience for its inhabitants. This concern with the cities unique qualities has been a major focus of the discipline ever since. Marx and Engels emphasized economics and the problems of inequality and conflict. Tonnies, Durkheim, and Weber considered the social structure of the city. Simmel suggested the importance of the urban experience. Each made quite clear what he thought beneficial and what he considered detrimental in the city’s ability to produce a humane life for its population.

About the time of World War I, urban sociology began to develop in the United States. in 1830, Chicago was approaching a population of 2 million by 1900, and it was expanding both upward and outward. Chicago factories were the black smoky “flag” of prosperity, creating their share of severe problems along the way. It was in Chicago that the main elements of U.S urban sociology took form. Robert Park argued that urban research must be conducted by disciplined observation. He also conceived the city as a social organism, with distinct parts bound together by internal processes.

Urbanization is the population shift from rural to urban areas. Louis Wirth identified Urbanism as the distinctive model of life which is associated with the growth of cities. Wirth began his analysis by isolating several factors he argued were universal social characteristics of the city. He then began to deduce systematically the consequences of these factors for the character of urban social life. He said if the condition is present, then that condition will result. Large population, population density, and heterogeneous people are all variables in urbanism.

Claude Fischer introduced the subultural theory of urbanism, rejecting Wirth’s main point by insisting that the urban milieu strengthens, not destroys group relationships. He suggested that the size, density, and heterogeneity of cities are positive factors that promote cohesion and they are not negative elements causing alienation, disorganization, or depersonalization. Once in a city, people with similar, even unconventional, interests, values or behaviors seek out each other for their own meeting places and habitats. As they gather in sufficient size and density, they attain critical mass, that level needed to generate self-sustaining momentum.

A theory of social pathology and urban living is one of the most provocative ideas put forth by the classical theorists particularly Simmel, Park, and Wirth was that human beings react to increasing population density with a psychological disorder, such as mental illness, or antisocial behavior, such as crime or aggression. A second source of the alleged linkage between density and pathology is research that appears to have some bearing on the quality of urban life.


Jailyn Williams Week 1

Georg Simmel’s claim is that the deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. The eighteenth century may have called for liberation from all the ties which grew up historically in politics, in religion, in morality, and in economics in order to permit the original natural virtue of man, which is equal in everyone, to develop without inhibition. The nineteenth century may have sought to promote, in addition to man’s freedom, his individuality (which is connected with the division of labor) and his achievements which make him unique and indispensable but which at the same time make him so much more dependent on the complementary actions of others. Nietzsche may have seen the relentless struggle of the individual as the prerequisite for his full development, while socialism found the same thing in the suppression of all competition but, in each of these the same fundamental motive was at work.

The money economy dominates the metropolis in which the last remnants of domestic production and direct barter of goods have been eradicated and in which the amount of production on direct personal order is reduced daily. The psychological intellectualistic attitude and the money economy are in such close integration that no one is able to say whether it was the former that affected the latter or vice versa. It’s only certain that the form of life in the metropolis is the soil which nourishes this interaction most fruitfully, a point which Simmel will attempt to demonstrate with the statement of an English constitutional historian. He will be observing London.

A rural town consists of a more slower paced and habitual setting. A small town rests more on feelings and emotional relationships. In a rural area, they have more conservative personalities which makes it easier to adapt to the same rhythm events. Metropolitan type reacts primarily in a rational manner and they are less sensitive. They interact and react in a totally different manner than people in rural areas. Metropolitan people have an intellectualistic quality and money domination that also plays into how they interact with people. Money is concerned only with what is common to all with the exchange value which reduces all quality and individuality to a purely quantitative level negatively enforcing individualism.

People in the city have a blase outlook.  A blase attitude, in which the nerves reveal their final possibility of adjusting themselves to the content and the form of metropolitan life by renouncing the response to them. It is the consequence of those rapidly shifting stimulations of the nerves which are thrown together in all their contrasts. An immoderately sensuous life makes one blase because it stimulates the nerves to their utmost reactivity until they finally can no longer produce any reaction at all. Less harmful stimuli, through the rapidity and the contradictoriness of their shifts, force the nerves to make such violent responses, tear them about so brutally that they exhaust their last reserves of strength and don’t have time for new reserves to form. The incapacity to react to new stimulations with the required amount of energy constitutes that blase attitude which every child of a large city evinces when compared with the products of the more peaceful and more stable milieu.

The relationships and concerns of the typical metropolitan resident are so manifold and complex that, especially as a result of the agglomeration of so many persons with such differentiated interests, their relationships and activities intertwine with one another into a many-membered organism. The lack of punctuality in promises and performances would cause the whole to break down into a chaos. If time stopped even for an hour, it would affect the entire economic and commercial life by derailing it. Modernity is the

I believe Simmel is a functionalist theorist. I believe this because of the way he broke down the rural and metropolitan people. He observed the way they acted and what they contributed to society. He dissected the ways in which their environment shaped them, their behavioral outputs, and their numerous sensory inputs. For example, the environment of a metropolitan place is money dominated so, the people are going to be work oriented which can make them money hungry, causing them to act in selfish or rude ways, challenging their emotion towards their values. Valuing money than other things.